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  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2017/10/30 Permalink
    Tags: , bentley little, bird box, blindness, , carrion comfort, , , , dathan auerbach, dawn, , exquisite corpose, , ghost story, , hell house, , , , jack ketchum, jose saramago, josh malarian, koji suzuki, lionel shriver, , , , , , penal, , peter straub, poppy z. brite, ramsey campbell, ray bradbury, richard matheson, ring, rosemary’s baby, scott smith, , something wicked this way comes, , the face that must die, the girl next door, , the ruins, the walking, , , we need to talk about kevin,   

    25 of the Most TERRIFYING Horror Books Ever 

    Literature can be a moving, beautiful artistic experience. Skilled writers can bring us face to face with scenarios and emotions we might never encounter in real life, expanding our understanding of both the universe and our fellow man.

    It can also scare the living daylights out of us. Horror novels don’t always get the respect they deserve; just because something is scary doesn’t mean it’s not “literary” or well-crafted art, but if the core purpose of a story is perceived to be “making you soil yourself in fear” for some reason that story won’t get much respect. Of course, a story can be terrifying without necessarily being great art. If your goal is to be so terrified of a book that you put it in the freezer and book a hotel room for a few days, here are twenty-five books that might not necessarily be the best horror novels, but are certainly the scariest.

    Literally Everything Edgar Allan Poe Wrote
    Poe had a knack for infusing everything he wrote with visceral dread. His characters and narrators tend towards the mentally fragile and the insane, people who are haunted by things that might be literal or might be manifestations of their unsound thought processes. Either way, stories like The Tell-Tale Heart or The Cask of Amontillado retain their power to petrify more than a century-and-a-half after their publication because Poe tapped into the fundamental fear we all have that the world and people around us are not what they seem.

    House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski
    Put simply, House of Leaves is one of the most frightening books ever written. From a fairly standard horror premise (a house is revealed to be slightly larger on the inside than is strictly possible) Danielewski spins out a dizzying tale involving multiple unreliable narrators, typographic mysteries, and looping footnotes that manage to drag the reader into the story and then make them doubt their own perception of that story. It’s a trick no one else has managed to such dramatic effect, making this novel more of a participatory experience than any other work of literature—which, considering the dark madness at its core, isn’t necessarily a pleasant experience.

    Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin
    The film adaptation has supplanted the novel in pop culture, but the novel was a huge hit for Levin—and the film actually sticks to the plot and dialog so closely you really do get a feel for the novel from watching it. The story of a young woman who becomes pregnant after a nightmare gets its terror not from the well-known twist of the baby’s parentage (hint: not her husband), but from the increasing isolation Rosemary experiences as her suspicions about everyone around her grow. So many threads tie into the terror, from the emotional and economic uncertainty of a struggling young couple to the simple fear any mother has for their child, all expertly knotted into a story that will keep you awake at night.

    The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson
    When you think about clichés in horror fiction, the haunted house is at the top of the list, an idea done so often it’s frequently an unintentional parody. Shirley Jackson, however, was no ordinary writer, and she takes the concept of the haunted house and perfects it. The Haunting of Hill House is simply the best haunted house story ever written. The scares come not just from the malevolent actions of a house that seems sentient and angry, but from the claustrophobia we experience from the novel’s unreliable narrator, Eleanor, whose descent into madness is slow and excruciating and only begins after we’ve been lulled into a false sense of security by the seeming relatability of her early persona.

    Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
    The great sage Pat Benatar once sang that hell is for children. Golding’s account of children stranded on an island without supplies or adult supervision is absolutely terrifying for one simple reason: there’s nothing supernatural going on. It’s a story about insufficiently socialized humans descending into savagery because that’s our fundamental nature. You look into the abyss at the center of this novel and the abyss looks back.

    We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver
    Another story centered on the terror of children, the horror inherent in this story comes from the fact that the human beings we create eventually become their own people—and possibly strangers to us. Not everyone has a close and loving relationship with their parents, and while the idea that your own kids might grow up to be criminals isn’t pleasant, most people assume they will at least recognize themselves in their kids. But what if you don’t? What if your child—your child—is a blank monster?

    Night Film, by Marisha Pessl
    In the Internet Age it’s pretty easy to fall down a rabbit hole of pop culture obsession, and there are still dark areas of culture that haven’t had a wiki created around them. Pessl’s story about a mysterious underground filmmaker whose movies may or may not contain hints of dark power and horrific events and the journalist who becomes obsessed with him asks the reader how you can be certain there’s a clear line between fact and fiction, then, once that wedge of doubt is established, presents a terrifying fiction to fill that space.

    Ring, by Kōji Suzuki
    The novel that inspired the horror films of the same name, the premise is well-known: anyone who watches a mysterious videotape of creepy images is informed that they will die in seven days—and then they die. The investigation into the tape and how to avoid this grim fate leads to what remains an incredibly shocking backstory involving rape, smallpox, and a forgotten well. Technology has shifted, but the terror never really relied on VHS tapes—it’s the concept that ideas can be deadly, that simply by experiencing something you can be doomed, that’s so horrifying.

    Penpal, by Dathan Auerbach
    Pivoting on the idea that we’re often blinded by the details we can see, making it impossible to see the bigger picture, Auerbach’s debut began life as a series of creepypasta stories on the Internet. The episodic nature of the story is ideal for the effect he achieves; the narrator tells of being a young boy and sending a penpal request attached to a balloon with his classmates, including his best friend Josh. He doesn’t receive a response until nearly a year later, and his life takes a turn for the bizarre shortly afterwards. A series of tragic and strange things happen to him and everyone around him, building a sense of dread that is only increased when the truth is revealed.

    Carrion Comfort, by Dan Simmons
    Simmons’ novel follows several groups of people who have The Ability, a psychic power that allows them to take control of others from a distance and force them to perform any action. When one of their puppets murders someone, the person with The Ability is invigorated and strengthened. Simmons doesn’t shy away from the implications of this power on history and the future, and the book will destroy any sense of security you have in the world around you, revealed to possibly be simply a worldwide board game for those who can control us all like pawns.

    Pet Sematary, by Stephen King
    Several of King’s books could be on this list, but he frequently blunts the terror of his stories with the richness and humanity of his characterizations and the sprawl of his narratives. Pet Sematary manages to be his most terrifying novel by dint of its simple, devastating concept: a magical cemetery where buried things come back to a sort-of life—but aren’t quite what they once were. From that simple idea King ramps up to a climax that gets under your skin in a fundamental way most horror stories fail to.

    The Girl Next Door, by Jack Ketchum
    Horror often pivots on the corruption or warping of societal norms and rules; once you feel like you can’t rely on the natural social order, literally anything is possible. Ketchum’s disturbing novel about the unimaginable abuse suffered by two sisters when they are forced to live with their mentally unstable aunt and her three savage sons is based on real events, but it’s the central theme of an adult giving official sanction to the atrocities that makes this story so utterly horrifying.

    Blindness, by Jose Saramago
    Helplessness is a key factor in a lot of horror; most people labor under the delusion that they are in charge of their destiny and their lives, and horror is often effective simply by reminding us how little control we actually have. An epidemic of blindness leaves an entire city’s population secluded in a mental institution as society within and without crumbles. The brutality and descent into animalistic madness is all too realistic, and Saramago manages to capture the terrifying confusion and helplessness experienced by people in a society that no longer functions.

    Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy
    McCarthy’s entire writing style and technique is terrifying; the man could write a grocery list that leaves the reader dripping with dread. This tale of extreme, ruthless, and pervasive violence in the American west emerges from under a sheen of the unreal to become all too real, and the greatest trick McCarthy manages here is by making the single most terrifying aspect of the story—the main character’s death—the one act of brutality he doesn’t depict, leaving the terrors contained within that scene to our imagination—which is infinitely worse than anything he might have conjured.

    Exquisite Corpse, by Poppy Z. Brite
    Brite’s most famous novel follows two serial killers who initially aim to kill each other but, upon discovering a fellow traveler, instead engage in a spree of horrific sex and murder. The matter-of-fact way the pair concocts a plan to kidnap, torture, and then consume a beautiful gay man named Tran is the sort of stuff that could simply be shocking, but Brite continuously considers the value of existence and what we could all be doing with the time we have left—time we too often imagine to be infinite when, of course, we’re all going to be consumed someday by something.

    Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
    Bradbury’s epic rumination on childhood and adulthood tells the story of a magical circus come to a small town, offering the residents dark gifts they weren’t aware they wanted—most notably the carousel that can change your physical age, making boys who yearn to be adults grow older, and middle-aged men and women who yearn for their lost youth to grow younger. Bradbury knows the worst horror in the world is losing the natural order of your life, and perfectly captures the combination of dread and excitement everyone experiences as they crack the mysteries separating them from adulthood.

    Hell House, by Richard Matheson
    What Matheson taps into in this classic haunted house story is the universal fear that we are already lost, already broken. Hired to investigate the existence of an afterlife by exploring the notoriously haunted Belasco House, a team moves in and slowly succumbs to the influence of the entity within—an entity that only uses their own weaknesses and secret shames against them. Their descent into the depths of horror is too close for comfort as a result—for everyone reading the book knows all too well that they have weaknesses, and secret shames, as well.

    The Face That Must Die, by Ramsey Campbell
    Campbell wrote a number of books that are absolutely terrifying, but this one stands out in the way he forces the reader to completely inhabit the mind of a very sick man, Horridge. As he fixates on an overweight man living in his neighborhood, the reader is forced to see the world consistently through his eyes. Everything is off-beat, everything drips with ominous meaning and horrific intent. Horridge sees the entire world as a horror that must be destroyed, and for a while the reader is carried along on that uncomfortable point of view, leaving them exhausted and terrified.

    Haunted, by Chuck Palahniuk
    Told in alternating chapters that depict a group of aspiring writers voluntarily secluded in an unusual writer’s retreat and the stories they’re writing, Haunted not only contains one of the most disturbing short stories ever published (“Guts,” which caused several people to faint when Palahniuk read it in public) it’s also a deep dive into madness as the reality-TV obsessed characters start sabotaging their experiment in a quest for fame. The sense of suffocating dread that Palahniuk applies grows so incrementally you don’t notice it until you suddenly realize you’ve been holding your breath for five pages.

    Dawn, by Octavia Butler
    Although technically science fiction, this story of the human race centuries after a devastating apocalypse is straight terror in many ways. Lilith is one of the last surviving humans, awakened on an alien ship. The aliens, three-sexed and many-tentacled, offer Lilith a deal: they will help her repopulated the Earth, but their price is to breed with humanity to gain humanity’s “talent” for cancer (and the creative possibilities it offers) while blunting their self-destructive tendencies. The horror imbued in each page is subtle, but it exerts tremendous mental pressure as you progress through the story.

    The Walking, by Bentley Little
    Far from just another tale of zombies, Little’s story of a man whose father rises from death after a stroke sizzles with a sense of doom long before the reader understands what’s at stake. Discovering that many families are hiding zombie relatives, and have been for some time, private investigator Miles Huerdeen digs into the mystery—and what he finds is easily the scariest stuff about zombies you’ll ever read. If you watch zombie movies and shows and laugh at their shuffling, mindless threat, this book will change your mind.

    The Ruins, by Scott Smith
    Smith’s story is deceptively simple: a group of tourists in Mexico go off in search of an archaeological site where a friend has set up camp; they find a pyramid covered in odd vines, the land around it salted and barren. Once on the pyramid, they discover the dead body of their friend, covered in the vines, and that the nearby villagers have arrived with guns to force them to remain on the pyramid. The vines are one of those simple monsters that seem so easy to defeat at first blush, yet the inexorable doom that descends on the characters slowly, grindingly proves otherwise.

    Bird Box, by Josh Malerman
    Malerman’s intense story of a world that slowly crumbles as people go murderously insane after seeing mysterious creatures—referred to simply as The Problem—is so scary because the reader only has the information that the characters have, and that’s not much. The world collapses and the survivors can only seal themselves off from the outside and try to avoid the worst, leading to a torturous wearing down of hope that leaves the reader defenseless against the horrible images Malerman conjures.

    Ghost Story, by Peter Straub
    A good old-fashioned ghost story is designed to terrify and entertain, and Straub’s breakthrough novel does both. Five old friends gather regularly to trade ghost stories, but when one of them dies mysteriously and the survivors begin to dream of their own deaths, a secret from their past is revealed—and the simple pleasures of a ghost story are explored to their most frightening ends by a master of the form.

    Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    If you don’t think of Beloved as a horror story, you haven’t been paying attention. Morrison’s skill as a writer is in full effect as she draws the reader into what is assuredly one of the saddest and most horrifying stories committed to paper. There’s no more terrifying sequence than the long slide into madness as escaped slave Sethe, convinced the young woman calling herself Beloved is the daughter she murdered in an attempt to keep her safe from slavers come to reclaim them, grows steadily thinner and weaker as she gives everything she has—including food—to Beloved, who grows steadily larger.

    Did we leave off any truly terrifying books? Let us know in the comments.

    The post 25 of the Most TERRIFYING Horror Books Ever appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick 5:00 pm on 2014/11/13 Permalink
    Tags: , lois duncan, , ray bradbury, , , spine chillers, , william peter blatty, wintry tales   

    7 Books to Scare You Silly This Winter 

    Lois Duncan's Daughters of EveEven though I’m a big scaredy cat, I love all things horror. I’m always up for creepy books and scary movies, even if it means I’ll be sleeping with my lights on for a while. It’s a weird, slightly masochistic love, but I don’t try to fight it. Some of us just like scaring ourselves silly, and what better time to do that than the early days of winter, as the days grow shorter and the nights (and the things that go bump in them) grow longer, and grow fangs? If you’re looking for a terrifying read that’ll send you straight under your comforter, pick up one of these awesomely scary novels and dig in.

    Coralineby Neil Gaiman
    Coraline might be a book for kids, but I still have nightmares about the Other Mother and her button eyes. I used to check under my bed and behind my dresser to make sure her hand wasn’t creeping around. And by “used to” I mean “still pretty often, even though I’m almost 24 and an adult.” Gaiman creates a world that’s creepy and twisted and so horrifying it’s almost beautiful, with the mission of scaring the pants off of his readers. Mission accomplished, Neil.

    Itby Stephen King
    Let’s all just agree clowns and spiders are the most terrifying things on the planet. Now imagine the horror of a clown TURNING INTO a giant spider. And also, you know, eating children. Throw in some bleeding sinks, a werewolf, and enough metaphysical talk to make your head spin and you basically have the scariest novel ever written. I have yet to read It and not have nightmares for at least two days afterward. Seriously, I still shudder every time I see a storm drain. Beep beep, Richie.

    Something Wicked This Way Comesby Ray Bradbury
    Carnivals, even normal ones, are kind of scary. They just are. So when a carnival is run by a man who tattoos his victim’s faces onto his skin, you know you’ve reached the next level of fear. Although the ultimate message of the book sounds kind of corny (love and happiness conquers all!), the novel features a lot of genuinely scary characters. The tattooed Mr. Dark is not someone you want to mess with, and I’d prefer not to meet the Dust Witch in a dark alley. Plus, it’s written by Bradbury, so you know it’s going to be wonderfully creepy and brilliant.

    The Exorcistby William Peter Blatty
    Does this one really need an explanation? An ancient demon possesses a 12-year-old girl and makes her do a lot of messed-up stuff. Tales of demonic possession have always turned me into a big scaredy cat, so obviously I cringe a little bit every time I think about The Exorcist. If you’ve been terrified by the movie, give the book a read. If you don’t mind having nightmares for a week, that is.

    Carrieby Stephen King
    Carrie isn’t scary because of the ending, since anyone born after the 1976 film version knows what’s going to happen: the prom, the pig’s blood, the ensuing massacre. And yet, even knowing the book ended in a bloodbath, I still spent the entire book terrified. I think knowing the ending somehow made the book even scarier—you’ll be constantly on edge, waiting for Carrie to finally snap. The buildup is so intense that it’s almost a relief when everything goes to hell—at least you can stop worrying about it.

    The Call of Cthulhuby H.P. Lovecraft
    All hail the great Cthulhu! If you aren’t familiar with this tentacled, slumbering god, you need to step up your Lovecraft game. Don’t let all the non-Euclidean geometry bog you down, this tale of a cult’s devotion to their apocalypse-bringing god is a horror classic for a reason. Plus, after reading it you’ll finally understand all the Cthulhu jokes the internet loves so much!

    Daughters of Eveby Lois Duncan
    This one is terrifying for the same reason Gone Girl kept me up at night: it’s a psychological mind melt that still leaves me uncomfortable. A new teacher unites her female students in a club called the Daughters of Eve, but their female solidarity soon turns violent toward those who dare question them. Are the girls fairly fighting the misogyny in their town, or is their new role model, Ms. Stark, completely mad? I still don’t know, and I still get the wigs thinking about it.

    What books give you the creeps?

     
  • BN Editors 3:30 pm on 2014/10/31 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , night shift, patrick suskind, perfume, ray bradbury, , , , , the veldt, ,   

    The Scariest Stories We’ve Ever Read 

    Scariest. Books. EVER.To celebrate Halloween, we asked our bloggers to name the scariest books they’ve ever read, and most of them got the heebie-jeebies just thinking about their answer. They explored the deepest, darkest parts of their minds to recall that story still haunting them today. We recommend these horrifying books with caution—they could make you sleep with the lights on for weeks. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

    Nicole: Boom. Hands down. No contest. “The Veldt,” by Ray Bradbury 
    There are a number of books that have scared the pants off me­—the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe, Say Cheese and Die, 1984—but legitimately nothing has frightened me more than Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Veldt,” in which a family is destroyed by its not-made-for-Disney Smart House. From the first ominous line, “George, I wish you’d look at the nursery,” to the last sinister cup of tea, the heebie-jeebies are set to stun, probably because the idea that our technology will one day be our downfall seems so plausible. I’ve never been able to look at children, nurseries, or lions the same way.

    Joel: Night Shift, by Stephen King
    The scariest book I’ve ever read is Stephen King’s Night Shift. I know, real original, but there’s something about King’s short fiction that burrows into my brain and refuses to leave (and I suss I’m not the only one, as 10 of the stories in this collection have been adapted for film or TV). Of course, it’s best read on a frigid, sleepless winter night, lest you realize that the climax of “The Mangler” is really quite ludicrous.

    Dell: Perfume, by Patrick Suskind
    In the grimy slums of 18th-century Paris, a baby is born and abandoned. Christened Jean-Babtiste Grenouille by the nuns who raise him, the peculiar boy grows into a sinister man possessed by a cool, dark rage and an unparalleled sense of smell. Though he oddly possesses no odor himself, Grenouille’s exceptional olfactory sense shapes his future, and his demise, and his obsession eventually leads to murder. This novel, originally published in German in 1986, is utterly depraved and diabolical. Indeed, I should’ve turned back the instant I started it, but instead I devoured it. Do you dare?

    Lauren: Helter Skelter, by Vincent Bugliosi
    I became a tad obsessed with the story of Charles Manson after reading Helter Skelter. It consumed my thoughts—I couldn’t stop looking up pictures of the crime scene. I set google alerts for Manson’s followers so I’d know if they were released from prison. I spent hours glued to my peep hole, positive my (kind, sweet, Mormon) neighbor was going to murder me in my sleep. It’s because the story was honestly the most horrifying thing I could possibly imagine, and Bugliosi’s crafty telling is so raw (Bugliosi was the prosecutor in the case against Manson) I couldn’t categorize it into a safe little corner of my brain called “stuff that isn’t real.” This is the weirdest, most gruesome story I have encountered. And it totally happened.

    Melissa: “Harold,” by Alvin Schwartz
    Raise your hand if you, too, were traumatized by the blotched, spindly embodied terrors ink drawings accompanying Schwartz’s children’s horror staple, a collection of stories so ghoulish I STILL can’t believe I found them on my third-grade teacher’s bookshelf. “Harold,” the most terrifying of the bunch, tells the story of two disenchanted farmers who take their anger out on a scarecrow they name Harold—until the night they hear his footsteps walking back and forth across the roof of their cottage. It’s not long before the men are driven out of their home by fear of their vindictive living scarecrow, but, of course, they leave something crucial behind. One brother goes to retrieve it and never comes back. What’s waiting for the other brother when he follows is a vision of such singular horror I can still quote it from memory. I’ll spare you: read and discover it yourself.

    Ginni: Child of God, by Cormac McCarthy
    An unparalleled novel of gruesome depravity told in beautiful, raw prose. Falsely accused of rape and then released back into the world, Lester Ballard is a violent social outcast roaming the hills of Tennessee. What he does in the caves out there is shudder-inducing and unforgettably disturbing.

    Shaun: It, by Stephen King
    I first read It when I was a freshman in college, though I had been terrified by the movie for years. If I thought Tim Curry’s Pennywise the Dancing Clown was scary, it was nothing compared to the book version. I spent two sleepless nights staring suspiciously at my roommate’s birthday balloons, waiting for IT to peek out from behind them. After all, what could be scary than a terrifying god-clown that can turn into a spider and feeds on children’s fears? I’ll never look at a storm drain the same way again. Enjoy your nightmares!

    Tori: In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
    UGH! THIS BOOK IS SO SCARY! There are books that are scary—like, “whoa, the mom was just a corpse in a rocking chair this whole time?”—and then there are books that are scarring, which is much much worse. In Cold Blood is the latter. Sure, it’s a work of genius, the suspense is unbearable, and the empathetic treatment of the antihero is something to marvel at, but I wish I’d never read it. The utter randomness of the brutal crime is so, so terrifying, and the fact that it’s nonfiction makes it that much worse. My takeaway from the book? You can live in the cutest farmhouse in the sweetest, most innocent town in Kansas, and you will still probably be gunned down after midnight.

    What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?

     
  • Melissa Albert 3:30 pm on 2014/10/10 Permalink
    Tags: a wild sheep chase, , dandelion wine, , get in trouble, , , kathryn davis, , magic for beginners, , ray bradbury, roadfood, , , the thin place, ,   

    Books to Read While You’re Waiting for Twin Peaks’ Return 

    The long dreamed-of return of Twin Peaks is happening, and we haven’t stopped eating celebratory pie and coffee since David Lynch gave word. While we wait for the third season to arrive with nothing but our sentient log friends to keep us company, we’ll be losing ourselves in books that capture the spirit of Lynch’s singular town, where girls dance to Angelo Badalamenti, BOB roams your nightmares in double denim, and do-gooding cops face surreal evils and come out on top. Here are the books you should read between now and the return of Agent Dale Cooper:

    The Secret Place, by Tana French
    In French’s latest, a police detective trespasses on the mystical terrain of female best friendship while investigating the murder of a young boarding-school boy, found dead on the grounds of an adjacent all-girls academy. The girls at the center of the story have as many secrets as Laura Palmer, and their nascent sexuality and secretive world confound a detective who knows there’s more to their stories than meets the eye.

    Magic for Beginners, by Kelly Link
    Link shares Lynch’s skill of spiking the mundane with a shot of weirdness, knowing that a world just a half-step out of sync with our own can be more arresting than a wholly invented place. In her second collection (watch for the fourth, Get in Trouble, next February), Link imagines alien territories inside of handbags, a new home where items become haunted one by one, and a mysterious, impossible TV show that reaches out to its biggest fan. (And if you want to really freak yourself out, go out of your way to read “The Specialist’s Hat,” the standout tale in her debut collection Stranger Things Happen. It’s got an ending that will coil up in your lizard brain and creep you out for weeks.)

    The Thin Place, by Kathryn Davis
    Davis’s “thin place” is a seaside town where magic can happen, for good or for ill. In the opening pages of this surreal, beguiling novel, a trio of little girls finds a dead man on a beach. One of them intervenes—and he’s alive again. From there the story unspools, about everyday life in a town where oddities breed oddities. Davis’s prose will put you into a trance, and her ending will delicately devastate you.

    A Wild Sheep Chase, by Haruki Murakami
    No matter what manner of weirdness Kyle MacLachlan’s indomitable Cooper encounters, he accepts the terms of the messed-up world he’s in. He has this in common with the nameless hero of A Wild Sheep Chase, a man whose encounter with a high-class thug who demands he track down a very specific sheep explodes his low-key existence, sending him down a wormhole into a world of shell-shocked sheep men, disappearing women, and ghostly visitors. And food, beer, movies, and jazz, of course. This is Murakami.

    Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury
    Bradbury’s summer-set coming-of-age novel takes place in a sepia-tinged America of wide open spaces and boys being boys, but one that buzzes with an undercurrent of magic. Though it has more earnest heart and far less weird than the town of Twin Peaks, Green Town has the same feeling of a place out of time, both darkly real and tinged with nostalgia.

    Roadfood, by Jane and Michael Stern
    The Sterns have made it their business to know where you can find the best pie, coffee, and everything else you’d want to eat while driving America’s roadways, and business is delicious. If you found yourself zoning out during every Twin Peaks episode because all you could think was, “damn, that pie looks good,” then this is the book for you.

    The post Books to Read While You’re Waiting for Twin Peaks’ Return appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jon Gutierrez 5:30 pm on 2014/06/30 Permalink
    Tags: alfred bester, , ray bradbury, , , ,   

    Four Sci-Fi Retellings that Are Even Better than the Originals 

    Ray Bradbury's Now and Forever

    It’s a popular cliché that science fiction is just regular fiction…IN SPACE! It certainly doesn’t help that Star Trek was pitched as “Wagon Train…IN SPACE!” and Star Wars is Akira Kurosawa’s “Hidden Fortress…IN SPACE!,” with a couple of effeminate robots thrown in for good measure.

    But the belief that any story can be turned into sci-fi just by slapping blasters and jetpacks on the characters ignores the real strength of science fiction: the exploration of ideas. Great science fiction takes an idea, inspects it from new angles, then shows us how it could affect us and the universe. And when that dedication to exploring ideas is combined with a classic, time-tested story, sometimes the results are even better than the original. Here are four sci-fi stories that took classic stories and improved them…IN SPACE!

    The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester
    The revenge tale is one of the most basic plots in fiction, and Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo is the classic example of a man slowly building his revenge against the one who wronged him. But Alfred Bester’s take on the story improves on the original by also exploring a world where personal teleportation (or “Jaunting”) has changed every aspect of society. After all, how do you imprison a man who can be instantaneously on the other side of the world with just a thought?

    Double Star, by Robert Heinlein
    Anthony Hope-Hawkins’ The Prisoner of Zenda is an adventure story about a man who has to impersonate a king to save his country. The Heinlein novel expands the kingdom to the whole solar system, with down-and-out actor Lorenzo Smith hired to take over the identity of a prominent politician who has been kidnapped by the opposition. But where Double Star really shines is in its exploration of “The Great Lorenzo.” Heinlein gives us a great character study of a strutting, egomaniacal, and racist (toward martians) actor. And since the book is written as Lorenzo’s memoirs, we get a fascinating look at how that character has to grow and change to fill the role of a responsible leader.

    Now and Forever, by Ray Bradbury
    Ray Bradbury wrote the script for the 1956 John Huston film adaptation of Moby Dick (an experience he wrote about in his amazing novel Green Shadows, White Whale), so it’s no surprise that he’d also adapt the original Herman Melville story on his own terms. His novella “Leviathan ‘99” sets “Moby Dick” in outer space, with an obsessed captain hunting down a comet that blinded him. And while the original novel is undoubtedly a classic, it’s also a doorstopper with one too many chapters about chowder. But Bradbury distills his version to a more appropriate length, making it more compelling while also keeping the spirit (and beauty) of Melville’s original language.

    Foundation, by Isaac Asimov
    After reading Edward Gibbon’s historical treatise The Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire, Isaac Asimov wrote this science fiction epic about the decline and fall of a galactic empire. But his biggest change was adding a mysterious organization dedicated to preserving the empire’s knowledge through the dark ages that followed. What started as a trilogy became a five-part series and eventually grew to include his Robot and Empire novels. But even if you just stick to the original trilogy, you’re left with a sweeping thousand-year epic that explores the ideas of fate, statistics and the effect that one individual can have on history.

     
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